Exposing MLB's Biggest August Duds, Position by Position
From getting booed on your own bobblehead night to striking out at an outrageous clip, there are a variety of ways to land a spot on the anti-all-MLB team for the month of August.
For some players like Adam Wainwright and Brandon Moss it was simply a matter of turning in consistently poor performances. The likes of Yasiel Puig and Jesus Montero earned the distinction courtesy of embarrassing episodes on and off the diamond.
While the players who comprise this infamous team all took divergent paths, each one will be hoping for far better results in September.
Catcher: Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners
This season, Mike Zunino has hit his fair share of home runs.
The backstop recently connected on his 19th, which tied a club record for catchers, per the Seattle Mariners' Twitter account. The problem is that Zunino only went yard twice in August and didn't really do much of anything else either.
The 23-year-old swung at a clip of .143 and racked up more than three times as many strikeouts (29) as hits (nine).
1st Base: Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics
Brandon Moss has vanished.
The 2014 American League All-Star hit .169 in August, which happens to coincide with the Oakland Athletics' decision to ship out Yoenis Cespedes on deadline day. Of course, the left-handed hitter's struggles predate the Cuban's departure. Moss hasn't homered since July 23, and he's totaled just two home runs since the Midsummer Classic.
Even when he's not at fault, things just haven't been going Moss' way. In a recent game against the Los Angeles Angels, the first baseman was called for obstruction on a controversial play that also involved Dan Otero and Erick Aybar. On his way to first base, the Angels shortstop veered into Otero as he fielded a grounder, yet the umpires called obstruction on Moss.
2nd Base: Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
The future is bright for Javier Baez. Since arriving in the big leagues on August 5, the 21-year-old has clubbed seven home runs.
The issue with Baez is that he just won't stop swinging and missing. Of course, that comes as no surprise to Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein, as he explained on the Carmen & Jurko Show on ESPN Chicago 1000.
He's always going to be a player who has extremes in his game. Extreme bat speed, extreme raw power, extreme home run output and probably some extreme swings and misses. And extreme strikeout totals to go with it.
Extreme indeed. The right-handed hitter has already endured four games in which he's piled up four strikeouts. As the Ace of MLB Stats' Twitter account points out, not even the K-King Adam Dunn has done that over the course of an entire season, let alone a single month.
In 116 plate appearances in August, Baez has struck out on 49 occasions, which works out to 42 percent of the time that he stepped to the plate. To put those numbers into context, Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers has K'd just 39 times all season.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
The 2014 season has been a whole new experience for Xander Bogaerts.
“I’ve never struggled like this in my life,” the shortstop recently explained, via Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. “I’ve been told that everybody goes through this at some point, and I guess this is my turn.”
The 21-year-old certainly struggled in August, as he hit .123 with just three extra-base hits. He also missed a week of action after an 89 mph pitch from Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners tagged him in the head and sent him to the concussion disabled list.
Last August, Bogaerts had just arrived at Fenway Park to help lead the Boston Red Sox to the World Series title. This time around, he can't buy a hit.
3rd Base: Chase Headley, New York Yankees
Chase Headley hasn't been a complete bust since landing in the Bronx a week before the trade deadline, but he also hasn't been a game-changer.
Over the past month, the switch-hitter posted a .233 average for the New York Yankees. That isn't exactly the type of production the Yankees were looking for when they acquired the third baseman to help spark the club's offense. His average is also slightly worse than that of Yangervis Solarte, the player he replaced. In August, Solarte hit .250 for the San Diego Padres.
Juan Francisco of the Toronto Blue Jays is also worth a dishonorable mention. The 27-year-old sported a .130 average in 17 games.
Left Field: Shin Soo-Choo, Texas Rangers
Shin-Soo Choo's first season with the Texas Rangers was a debacle.
The outfielder, who inked a seven-year, $130 million deal in the offseason, was hobbled early on by a sprained ankle, and he never fully recovered. Most recently, Choo's season was cut short thanks to a bone spur in his throwing elbow.
As Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News argues, those injuries could actually be considered "good news" as they would help explain his disastrous season. The Rangers will certainly hope that's the case. In August, Choo checked in with a .238 average, and on the season he hit .242. Plus, the 32-year-old was just 3-for-7 on stolen-base attempts.
Center Field: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yasiel Puig's numbers in August definitely weren't great. However, it's the 23-year-old's ill-advised baserunning and one errant bat flip that earned him a spot on this squad.
On August 24, Puig ran his way into a triple play as he was gunned out at the plate after trying to score from second base on a grounder. As you can see in the MLB.com video above, the play wasn't close either.
Back on August 12, the outfielder was also involved in a forgettable incident. After flying out, Puig angrily flipped his bat, and it nearly helicoptered into Matt Kemp, who was standing in the on-deck circle. The MLB GIFS Twitter account provides a look at the mishap.
Right Field: Curtis Granderson, New York Mets
Curtis Granderson has been one of the least productive everyday players in baseball in 2014, and in August he might just be the worst of all.
Last month, the veteran hit .147. As Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports, that lack of production prompted the team's fans to boo Granderson on his own bobblehead night. When asked by Larry Brooks of the New York Post what's wrong, the 33-year-old didn't offer much insight.
“I don’t think there’s any change in approach I need to make. ... The cool thing about baseball is that you get to go back out there the next day with the chance to change the outcome.”
In his first season in Queens, the outcome has been consistently awful. Unsurprisingly, the outfielder passed through waivers unclaimed, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted. Considering he's playing in just the first season of a four-year, $60 million deal, the New York Mets will be stuck with Granderson for a while.
Designated Hitter: Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners
Jesus Montero didn't play a single big league game in August, but that didn't stop him from ending up on the anti-all-MLB team. While taking part in a rehab assignment with one of the Seattle Mariners' minor league affiliates, the 24-year-old was involved in a bizarre dust-up.
According to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times, one of the M's scouts heckled Montero from the stands and eventually sent him an ice-cream sandwich in the dugout. The right-handed hitter, who showed up to spring training considerably overweight, then walked toward the scout with a bat before throwing the ice cream at him.
In the aftermath of the run-in, the Mariners have shut down Montero for the rest of the season. On the year, Montero posted a .235 average in just six games with Seattle.
Starting Pitcher: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright was historically bad in August.
The right-hander dropped four contests in a single month for the first time in his career, as Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com notes. In six starts, Wainwright posted a 5.17 ERA and an opponents' average of .289. His teammate Justin Masterson has also put up numbers that simply can't be ignored.
Since arriving in St. Louis, the 29-year-old has been a scheduled loss for his new club. After his latest poor outing, manager Mike Matheny wouldn't guarantee Masterson another start, explaining via Langosch that it's "too early to make that statement."
Closer: Joe Nathan, Detroit Tigers
Joe Nathan hasn't been shutting the door in Motown, and he hasn't been doing a good job of dealing with his struggles either.
After a rocky but ultimately scoreless ninth inning on August 14 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the right-hander made a couple obscene gestures toward the home crowd at Comerica Park. The next day, the Detroit Tigers closer looked to make amends, as you can see in the MLB.com video above.
I know both sides are frustrated, but the thing is, we're on the same page. The fans want to win, want us to win. We obviously want to win. I do apologize for that, but again, we're on the same page here. We're trying to accomplish the same thing. Unfortunately, this incident happened.
Following his show of emotion, Nathan went on to allow three runs in his next three outings.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.